University of Chicago Press 2017
New Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 30, 2017 Lilly Goren
Catherine Zuckert‘s new book, Machiavelli’s Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2017), systematically analyzes all the texts that Machiavelli wrote, exploring each text individually, but also as part of Machiavelli’s more expansive teaching as a philosopher, but more precisely as a philosopher of politics. Zuckert examines not only Machiavelli’s own work, but she also integrates the vast scholarship of Machiavelli’s work, exploring others scholars assessment of Machiavelli’s particular project in each work and also the broader interpretation of Machiavelli as a political thinker. Machiavelli’s reputation has long been a caricature of his actual work and teaching, and Zuckert’s book delves into not only the reason for his reputation, but also how and where it is derived in the texts themselves, often at the expense or in the absence of attention to corresponding teachings in other texts, especially texts beyond The Prince. Zuckert not only pays attention to the texts themselves and the myriad other works of scholarship and analysis, she also unpacks the historical data that Machiavelli integrates into his work while focusing on the ways in which the texts are dedicated, to whom, and how these aspects of the texts are important to understanding the content as well.
By exploring all of Machiavelli’s works, and how they connect to each other and refract the teaching in each text, Zuckert goes on to elucidate Machiavelli’s political project, which she explains provides a kind of teaching that is distinct from classical theorists as well as those who came after Machiavelli and who wrote in a much different manner. Machiavelli’s Politics is not only a beautifully written book, clear and complex simultaneously, it is an extraordinary resource with extensive integration of other works and scholars who have delved into analyzing and considering Machiavelli’s works over multiple centuries from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.